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Citation: When to Cite

Overview of how to cite sources and avoid plagerism

When to Cite

This page gives you guidance on when you should cite your sources.  It also gives you a handout/video detailing some strategies for generating citations.

When to Cite

You must cite sources if any of the following about your work is true:

  • You use someone else’s idea(s)
  • You use someone else’s work
  • You use someone else’s words
  • You use direct quotations

When Not to Cite

You do not need to cite the following types of information:

  • Undisputed facts or matters of public record 
    • As examples: WWII was fought between 1939-1945; Hawaii does not observe daylight savings time.
  • Common knowledge in your subject or discipline
    • As examples: The chemical formula of water for a chemist; Shakespeare's year of birth for a dramatist.
  • Your own experiences, memories, thoughts, or ideas
    • As examples: Falling down the stairs when you were 6-years old; your cupboards being overrun with ants.

Understanding Citations

This guide will teach you when you need to cite and give you step-by-step instructions for getting citations. 

This video will give you step-by-step instructions on how to use various citation tools. 

Have a question?

You are welcome to contact us individually at: 

Luke Beatty
- Library Director


Elora Agsten - Research Services Librarian


Jared Calaway - Information Literacy Instructor and Student Research Support Specialist

Chat with a Librarian